Unemployment in the UK rose by 210,000 to 2.47 million in the three months to July, which is the highest level since May 1995, according to the ONS.
The jobless rate currently stands at 7.9%, a 0.7% increase over the previous quarter and 2.3% rise over the year. It has not been higher since the three months to November 1996.
Numbers claiming Jobseeker's Allowance in August grew by 24,400 from July to 1.61 million; the highest since May 1997.
Average earnings, excluding bonuses, also grew at the lowest rate since records began in 2001, rising by 2.2% in the three months to July 2009 compared with the previous year.
Meanwhile, average earnings including bonuses rose by only 1.7% over the period.
There had been concerns jobless figures could reach the psychologically important 2.5 million level this month. Although this was not reached, commentators warn jobless figures could still rise and even reach the three million mark in 2010.
Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said this week the beleaguered UK economy is showing signs of growth after four quarters of contraction, but it will take time for an upturn to filter through to unemployment data.
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Celtic WM and Active Wealth